Daughter fights to overrule father’s living will
Associated Press January 17, 2013 10:42AM
Updated: January 17, 2013 11:00PM
NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — An Indiana woman can’t force doctors to put her gravely ill father back on life support because he expressly stated in his will that he doesn’t want his life prolonged by artificial means, a judge ruled.
Susan Rissman told The Indianapolis Star that despite Judge Steve Nation’s ruling Wednesday during an emergency hearing in Hamilton Superior Court, she intends to continue fighting to have her 88-year-old father hooked back up to a ventilator and feeding tubes.
“We’re not going to quit,” Rissman said. “I don’t know what else I can do, but I can’t give up on my dad.”
Nation refused Rissman’s request to appoint a guardian or order a review of St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital’s care of her father, Paul G. Smith. Smith was removed from a ventilator Jan. 7 and had a feeding tube removed the next day. Nation ruled that Smith’s care should be guided by his 2004 living will, in which he said he doesn’t want his life prolonged by artificial means.
Rissman said her father is still capable of making that decision for himself and has asked for food and water. Her attorney, Tim Stoesz, said the living will shouldn’t have been invoked because Smith hasn’t been declared incapacitated.
Dr. Anthony Martin, testifying by phone, said he had Rissman removed from the hospital Sunday and barred from returning after learning she allowed Smith to be videotaped asking for food and water. He said the decision was made for Smith’s safety.
Rissman had been Smith’s primary caregiver for the last several years, but another daughter, Judith Sly, was designated his health care representative based on directives Smith signed in 2004. Stoesz claimed Smith told a court-appointed advocate in December that he wanted Rissman, not Sly, to oversee his medical care.
Nation said that testimony was not enough to prove Smith had revoked his living will.
“I am gratified that he used his own legal knowledge to avail himself of the law and provide his advance written directives to guide his family at a time when he was competent to express his wishes,” Sly’s attorney, Anne Hensley Poindexter, said in a statement. “Regrettably, he presently suffers from a number of terminal illnesses or conditions, and his overall prognosis is poor.”
Martin and Dr. Colleen Brown said they had been treating him as an end-of-life patient since Jan. 7. Martin said he had expected Smith to die within 24 hours following an assessment Jan. 9. The doctors stressed they are following the wishes Smith outlined in his living will.
Stoesz did not respond to a phone message Thursday from The Associated Press, and Poindexter had nothing additional to say about the matter.
Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com